Boris Johnson: Christmas revellers with minor injuries should get a taxi to hospital

Some ambulances were held up waiting to offload sick patients at busy Accident & Emergency units in hospitals.

At the same time, members of the public were increasingly dialling 999 for help rather than waiting to see their family doctor or travelling to A&E under their own steam.

Mr Johnson said: “The London Ambulance Service is doing an incredible job responding to Londoners at an increasingly busy time of year.

“That demand puts huge pressure on the men and women in the front line, emergency service operators, paramedics, ambulance technicians, police officers, firefighters and staff on our public transport network.

“Over the festive period and across the winter I know the public will heed the emergency services calls for restraint when it comes to calling an ambulance.”

Mr Johnson's comments come after a memo drawn up by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives proposed limited increases for waiting times for some serious ambulance call outs.

The proposals to deal with growing pressure on services were then leaked to a newspaper, leading to accusations that the time taken by ambulances to reach critically ill patients would double.

According to the new proposals, NHS England had agreed in principle to relax target times with a proportion of "serious but not life threatening" Red 2 incidents, which include strokes and seizures, increase from eightminutes to 19 minutes.

The only higher category is Red 1 - "immediately life-threatening" incidents such as cardiac arrest, choking and major bleeding and target for these remain unchanged.

Some doctors have warned it is that it can be very hard to tell if a situation is immediately life threatening or not over the phone when people call the emergency services.

The Interview and North Korea: what happened to America’s true grit?

The BBC is about to use a short story about the assassination of Margaret Thatcher – one of the most venerated leaders of post-war British history – as its Book at Bedtime. Since the first cheeps of human creativity, the idea of killing the king has been an indispensable staple of drama – and in this case the thing is obviously not intended seriously.

It’s a spoof; it’s a joke; it’s a piece of hyperbolical satire. But never mind – true to form, the North Koreans have a total sense of humour failure. The next thing is they decide to launch a frenzied cyber attack on Sony Pictures – and I have to tell you, the results are side-splittingly funny. They expose the salaries of the top stars, and the sexist pay gap between the men and even the most talented female performers.

They publish loads of embarrassing emails, including the intervention by the Japanese head of Sony, who wonders whether the final shot of Kim’s exploding head contains a shade too much brain-splatter. They cause such mayhem with their hack attacks that in the end Sony Pictures decides pathetically and cravenly that they are actually going to pull the movie! Can you believe it?

The whole shebang is scrapped; Sony is refusing to release The Interview to the cinemas. It is meant to be the Christmas blockbuster – and now the pantywaist Hollywood moneymen have kowtowed to the North Koreans.

In the bit I have just been watching, the President of the United States has been forced to give a press conference, in which he says: “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the US.” I must say that there has been a certain amount of giggling in my section of the audience – because that is exactly what is happening, isn’t it? The North Koreans have only one objective in this enterprise: to protect the “dignity of the supreme leader” by suppressing this insulting American movie; and as far as we can see, they are succeeding.

As the head of Sony Pictures has plaintively observed, there is still not a single American chain that is willing to screen The Interview. No one wants to take the risk; no one wants to suffer the unspecified wrath of Pyongyang. They are frightened, frit.

Now the house lights are up, and we are all scratching our heads and feeling like Jaws has ended with the shark eating Quint. It’s like an unavenged Pearl Harbor. It’s Team North Korea 1, Team America 0.

My friends, there is only one way to take this narrative forward, and that is as follows. We meet the underpaid and idealistic Jennifer Lawrence, who has a lowly job reading scripts for Sony pictures, and whose father was an MIA fighter ace tortured by the North Koreans. She smuggles a print of The Interview in her handbag to a scuzzy old arthouse cinema, run by an eccentric Englishman (Michael Caine? Benedict Cumberbatch?).

She begs him to screen it. With tears in his eyes, he declines; he can’t afford the insurance; the authorities will close him down. She pawns her mother’s rings. They screen it together – and it is an unbelievable hit. There are queues around the block, whole families retching with laughter as they watch the bathetic North Koreans get their comeuppance.

Soon the shame-faced bureaucrats of Hollywood can see where they have gone wrong. They put the film on general release — and the US government decides to do the only honourable thing. It recognises that it is the duty of the state to fight cyber-terror, not to surrender to it, so it agrees to underwrite the insurance costs of every cinema that screens the film.

As our story comes to its triumphant climax, we go to a montage sequence with a swelling orchestral score. We see Barack and Michelle watching it in the White House screening room, with tears of joy running down their cheeks. We see audiences roiling with pleasure in London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Beijing – and yes, in the final shot we go to a darkened room in Pyongyang where Kim Jong-un is watching it himself.

His lip twitches. He can’t help it. He smiles, he chortles, he belly laughs – and cut! Roll the credits. Isn’t that fantabulous?

Come on Sony; come on America. It’s time for everyone to come to their senses, get a grip, have some guts, rediscover the spirit of John Wayne, and give us the Hollywood ending that free speech demands.

Happy Christmas!

Boris Johnson: do those concerned about immigration want ‘forced sterilisation or one-baby policy?’

He said that it was inevitable that immigrants were attracted to London at a time when the economy was growing.

Saying that Russia had a stable population, he went on: "And Russia is a chaotic and nasty place to be."

The Mayor said he did not support uncontrolled immigration, adding: “A state should be able to control its frontiers, I am perfectly prepared to accept that we need proper controls at our borders, and we haven’t had those controls."

But, he asked: "How would people feel if the population pressure was caused entirely by white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant babies?"

Asking if those who favoured population controls would want "forced sterilisation or a one baby policy" - a reference to the practice China used to limit its population - he went on: “I just think there’s a lack of clarity.”

Mr Johnson’s words are in stark contrast to those of the leaders of the main political parties, who have escalated their rhetoric in recent months in response to the electoral threat of the anti-immigration UK Independence Party.

In a major speech on the issue two weeks ago, David Cameron set out plans to reduce access to benefits to immigrants in a bid to reduce the level of migration to the UK.

He promised to negotiate a new settlement with the EU to stop a flood of migrants arriving to take advantage of Britain’s economic success, saying: “Here is an issue which matters to the British people, and to our future in the European Union.

The Mayor also appeared to contradict an article he wrote in The Telegraph just two months ago, in which he suggested that levels of European immigration might need to be capped and urged those concerned about migration to vote Conservative rather than Ukip.

In another sign of division between Mr Johnson, who is hoping to return to Parliament at the forthcoming General Election, and his party leader, the Mayor added that he hoped the Government would ultimately make the “right choice” and back his plan for an airport in the Thames Estuary dubbed “Boris Island.”

He said the expansion of Heathrow had been ruled out, and Gatwick would also prove unsatisfactory, adding: “In the end, having exhausted the alternatives, I do think we will do the right thing and have that airport.”

Don’t murder the Cereal Killers – we need people just like them

So let’s imagine that you have the privilege of being their editor. You are the boss of Pliny the Younger and Tacitus, the two thrusting hounds of the newsroom. And then let’s imagine it’s a slow news day, and the pair of them are prowling around – looking hungrily through the plate glass of your corner office, wondering whether you will send them on a story. Then something comes in. It’s about some new café in Shoreditch, in East London, called Cereal Killer – a place where they seem to be selling any kind of cereal you want, 120 varieties and 13 types of milk. Hmm, you say to yourself, as both Tacitus and Pliny leer through the glass, trying to catch your eye. Which shall you send on this one?

Now, Pliny the Younger (you think to yourself): he is definitely a glass-half-full kind of guy. He is gossipy, lively, and he has done some terrific eyewitness stuff, most notably his sensational scoop about the eruption of Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii. He can definitely do the human interest piece, and he can do it with compassion and humour – and above all he will do it pretty straight. This is a man who has already composed an almost emetically enthusiastic panegyric in honour of the Emperor Trajan. When the sun comes up in the morning, Pliny the Younger basically believes that Jove is in his heaven and all is right with the Roman world. Yup – whatever is going on with this Shoreditch café, Pliny can be counted on to be fairly positive.

Then you see his rival scowling at you sardonically, daring you to give him the job. Tacitus is a completely different kettle of fish. Cornelius Tacitus prides himself on being able to see through everything. He thinks that almost everyone in government is weak, hopeless and vacillating – or else they are debauched, murderous and corrupt. Sometimes they are all of these things at once. He makes fun of the poor deluded British subjects for deciding to imitate Roman dinner parties – without realising that it is really part of their slavery. Where Pliny the Younger takes an upbeat view of the empire, Tacitus puts some famously withering words into the mouth of the rebel Calgacus – they make a desert, and call it peace! Tacitus is cynical, mordant. He is definitely a glass-half-empty sort of reporter.

You look at the story again, and you see it is going to be all in the telling. Pliny would probably make it into a light but heart-warming tailpiece for the news. Tacitus would almost certainly go for the jugular, and find some way of attacking not just the café but the entire dietary habits of the people of Tower Hamlets, perhaps for failing to eat enough vegetables. (“They make a dessert and call it peas!”)

Who gets the story? The equable Pliny or the vicious Tacitus? I think the answer depends on whether you are in Britain or America. A distinguished Roman historian told me the other day that she had taught both Pliny and Tacitus in universities on both sides of the Atlantic. She was fascinated to discover that the students had exactly the opposite preferences. The British students loved Tacitus, and thought Pliny was on the whole less exciting. The American students were very keen on Pliny, and rather appalled by Tacitus.

At the risk of vast generalisation, that tells us something about continuing differences in attitude and temperament between the two countries. The Americans like stuff that is broadly positive; the British love to be cynical. Of course, there is scope for both. It would be a sad day if we British stopped being cynical, but you sometimes wonder whether we overdo it.

As it happened, Channel Four indeed sent a reporter to cover the story of the Cereal Killer Café in Shoreditch – and he generally monstered the poor entrepreneurs. He was scathing about charging £2.50 minimum for a bowl of cereal; he mocked the proprietors – a gentle pair of bearded hipsters – for their pretensions to gentrify the area, and suggested that local people would not be able to eat there. He put the boot in, and I am not at all sure he was right to do so.

We should be hailing anyone who starts a business in this country; we should acclaim them for overcoming all the obstacles that government puts in their path – the rates, the employment law, the health and safety. It is a great thing to want to open a place of work in one of the poorest boroughs in Britain. We don’t need taxpayer-funded journalists endlessly bashing the wealth-creators of this country, and sometimes we need to be a little less cynical and a bit more encouraging.

Tacitean scorn is all very well; but there are times when we should be boosting our enterprise culture. When someone has come up with a wacky business proposition that will create jobs and bring in tax revenue and boost the neighbourhood – send Pliny to cover it.

Boris Johnson: Nigel Farage’s decision to blame M4 traffic on immigration is like ‘effluent’ and ‘sewage’

"Yeah, I heard this. Xenophobia is like sewage, it’s a natural concomitant of the human condition," Mr Johnson said.

"We’ve got to manage it, we’ve got to dispose of it. It’s like effluent, it’s something that human beings naturally produce."

Pushed on the comments by the show's host Nick Ferrari, Mr Johnson said that immigration had been "massively" beneficial for London and the country but xenophobia reflected a wider fear of Otherness.

"It’s part of the way human beings are. I think there’s a natural sort of tendency to be alarmed about the Other, the alien," he said.

"My view about the whole immigration is very, very clear. London has benefited massively from immigration; the country benefits massively from immigration, but people need to be British.

"They need to speak English, they need to be loyal to this culture, to this country, to our institutions, to our society, to the Queen, to the rule of law – all the things that make us British – a sense of humour, and not freaking out about traffic jams on the motorway."

Mr Farage said over the weekend he was unable to attend a reception for 100 party supporters to meet the leader at Ukip’s first conference in Wales because of traffic on the M4.

Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales, Mr Farage said: "It took me six hours and 15 minutes to get here – it should have taken three-and-a-half to four.

"That is nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a population that is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be."

Boris Johnson: Nigel Farage’s decision to blame M4 traffic on immigration is like ‘effluent’ and ‘sewage’

"Yeah, I heard this. Xenophobia is like sewage, it’s a natural concomitant of the human condition," Mr Johnson said.

"We’ve got to manage it, we’ve got to dispose of it. It’s like effluent, it’s something that human beings naturally produce."

Pushed on the comments by the show's host Nick Ferrari, Mr Johnson said that immigration had been "massively" beneficial for London and the country but xenophobia reflected a wider fear of Otherness.

"It’s part of the way human beings are. I think there’s a natural sort of tendency to be alarmed about the Other, the alien," he said.

"My view about the whole immigration is very, very clear. London has benefited massively from immigration; the country benefits massively from immigration, but people need to be British.

"They need to speak English, they need to be loyal to this culture, to this country, to our institutions, to our society, to the Queen, to the rule of law – all the things that make us British – a sense of humour, and not freaking out about traffic jams on the motorway."

Mr Farage said over the weekend he was unable to attend a reception for 100 party supporters to meet the leader at Ukip’s first conference in Wales because of traffic on the M4.

Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales, Mr Farage said: "It took me six hours and 15 minutes to get here – it should have taken three-and-a-half to four.

"That is nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a population that is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be."

Boris Johnson: Nigel Farage’s decision to blame M4 traffic on immigration is like ‘effluent’ and ‘sewage’

"Yeah, I heard this. Xenophobia is like sewage, it’s a natural concomitant of the human condition," Mr Johnson said.

"We’ve got to manage it, we’ve got to dispose of it. It’s like effluent, it’s something that human beings naturally produce."

Pushed on the comments by the show's host Nick Ferrari, Mr Johnson said that immigration had been "massively" beneficial for London and the country but xenophobia reflected a wider fear of Otherness.

"It’s part of the way human beings are. I think there’s a natural sort of tendency to be alarmed about the Other, the alien," he said.

"My view about the whole immigration is very, very clear. London has benefited massively from immigration; the country benefits massively from immigration, but people need to be British.

"They need to speak English, they need to be loyal to this culture, to this country, to our institutions, to our society, to the Queen, to the rule of law – all the things that make us British – a sense of humour, and not freaking out about traffic jams on the motorway."

Mr Farage said over the weekend he was unable to attend a reception for 100 party supporters to meet the leader at Ukip’s first conference in Wales because of traffic on the M4.

Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales, Mr Farage said: "It took me six hours and 15 minutes to get here – it should have taken three-and-a-half to four.

"That is nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a population that is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be."

Boris Johnson: Nigel Farage’s decision to blame M4 traffic on immigration is like ‘effluent’ and ‘sewage’

"Yeah, I heard this. Xenophobia is like sewage, it’s a natural concomitant of the human condition," Mr Johnson said.

"We’ve got to manage it, we’ve got to dispose of it. It’s like effluent, it’s something that human beings naturally produce."

Pushed on the comments by the show's host Nick Ferrari, Mr Johnson said that immigration had been "massively" beneficial for London and the country but xenophobia reflected a wider fear of Otherness.

"It’s part of the way human beings are. I think there’s a natural sort of tendency to be alarmed about the Other, the alien," he said.

"My view about the whole immigration is very, very clear. London has benefited massively from immigration; the country benefits massively from immigration, but people need to be British.

"They need to speak English, they need to be loyal to this culture, to this country, to our institutions, to our society, to the Queen, to the rule of law – all the things that make us British – a sense of humour, and not freaking out about traffic jams on the motorway."

Mr Farage said over the weekend he was unable to attend a reception for 100 party supporters to meet the leader at Ukip’s first conference in Wales because of traffic on the M4.

Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales, Mr Farage said: "It took me six hours and 15 minutes to get here – it should have taken three-and-a-half to four.

"That is nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a population that is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be."

Boris Johnson: Nigel Farage’s decision to blame M4 traffic on immigration is like ‘effluent’ and ‘sewage’

"Yeah, I heard this. Xenophobia is like sewage, it’s a natural concomitant of the human condition," Mr Johnson said.

"We’ve got to manage it, we’ve got to dispose of it. It’s like effluent, it’s something that human beings naturally produce."

Pushed on the comments by the show's host Nick Ferrari, Mr Johnson said that immigration had been "massively" beneficial for London and the country but xenophobia reflected a wider fear of Otherness.

"It’s part of the way human beings are. I think there’s a natural sort of tendency to be alarmed about the Other, the alien," he said.

"My view about the whole immigration is very, very clear. London has benefited massively from immigration; the country benefits massively from immigration, but people need to be British.

"They need to speak English, they need to be loyal to this culture, to this country, to our institutions, to our society, to the Queen, to the rule of law – all the things that make us British – a sense of humour, and not freaking out about traffic jams on the motorway."

Mr Farage said over the weekend he was unable to attend a reception for 100 party supporters to meet the leader at Ukip’s first conference in Wales because of traffic on the M4.

Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales, Mr Farage said: "It took me six hours and 15 minutes to get here – it should have taken three-and-a-half to four.

"That is nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a population that is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be."

Sending Putin the Elgin Marbles is barmy, but it’s what makes Britain great

Well, perhaps we are; and we must all hope that there is a sensible solution in the Ukraine. But how exactly does it constitute “putting pressure” on Putin to send him a masterpiece of Phidian sculpture? The British Museum is one of the very greatest in the world (if not the greatest, as I am sure its director, Neil MacGregor, would attest). The Duveen Galleries are the holy of holies, the innermost shrine of that cultural temple; and the river god Ilissus is one of the most fluid and extraordinary pieces of 5th-century Athenian sculpture.

Why send it abroad now? Why to Russia? Why Putin? The French have just decided not to send the Russians the warships they have built for them; and here we are, despatching a portion of the Elgin Marbles. It is hard, on the face of it, to see why there should be one rule for oil and gas companies, which are private businesses, and one for a museum that receives – rightly – substantial support from the taxpayer. If you were Putin, you might feel that this was a decidedly friendly gesture from the British Government – a calculated thawing in relations, an olive branch.

And there, I think, Putin would be completely wrong. I don’t believe for a minute that the Government plotted to send Ilissus to Russia. This is not an act of state; this is not some serpentine piece of British diplomacy, a surreptitious little bit of détente. This is what it looks like – a moderate shambles, in which the trustees of a national museum have taken a decision, at the urging of their flamboyant and enterprising director, which simply does not cohere with British foreign policy. And the decision, therefore, is all the more glorious – and all the more correct.

The idea of sending a piece of the Elgin Marbles to the Hermitage did not need to be cleared by government. The British Museum did not obtain prior government approval – and in that simple fact you have the difference between Britain and so many other countries on earth, and especially Russia. This is not a tyranny. We do not have power located in one place. We have and we protect an idea of cultural, artistic and intellectual freedom – and that is of immense economic value to this country.

We have more live-music venues in London than any other city on earth; we have twice as many theatres as Paris, and we will soon produce more TV and feature films than New York or even Los Angeles. One of the reasons for that global success is that politicians, by and large, do not interfere – except to encourage.

Can you imagine any other country where a national museum could take such a politically charged decision, without government knowledge and acquiescence? Greece? France? Russia? Don’t make me laugh. That is why good old George Clooney is so wrong in his plan to restore the marbles to the “Pantheon”, as he puts it (I think even M Vipsanius Agrippa would have had some trouble with that project, since the Pantheon is the wrong temple, in the wrong city, with the wrong architectural order).

That is why it is entirely fitting that the owl of Pallas should still haunt the squares of Bloomsbury. It is the British Museum’s freedom to loan Ilissus to Russia – even in this wretched period – that shows exactly why the Elgin Marbles belong and shall remain in London.